At the 2021 Crystal Awards on April 23, the Winter Park Health Foundation (WPHF) received the 2021 Florida Department of Education Commissioner’s Business Recognition Award and was named the Orange County Public Schools (OCPS) Outstanding Partner in Education of the Year for its ongoing efforts in the Winter Park, Eatonville, and Maitland communities.
Formerly known as the Community Outreach Recognition Event, the Crystal Awards recognize outstanding coordinators, school volunteers, and business partners for their contributions to enhancing educational excellence and community involvement activities that impact student success. Since 1997, the WPHF has invested close to $17 million in efforts to uphold their mission statement “healthy kids make better students, and better students make healthy communities.”
One of the longest-lasting OCPS programs is the nationally recognized Coordinated Youth Initiative. According to the WPHF, the initiative is a school-based program that delivers health and well-being assistance to 11,000 OCPS students and their families. The Foundation also hosts programs such as the School Nursing Initiative, School-Based Health Centers, staffed by nurse practitioners, Healthy School Teams, and the “CHILL” counseling program.
During the Crystal Awards, executive vice president of the Winter Park Health Foundation, Debbie Watson, gave her thoughts on the Foundation’s lasting impact through its partnership with OCPS. According to Watson, it “all started with listening.”
“We learned very early on to listen to the principals of the 13 schools that we focus on and found that we were surprised of the number of absent days that were missed due to illness,” Watson said. “Most importantly, we recognized the emotional health issues that were going on that were manifesting into physical health issues.”
This year’s virtual program was renamed the Crystal Awards in commemoration of its 40th anniversary. “In our anniversary year, the Community Outreach Recognition Event program has been given a new name, ‘The Crystal Awards’ in honor of our ADDition School volunteers and partners in education, who are highly valued for their lasting impact to ensure that every child has a promising and successful future,” said Pam Carson, the assistant director for the Foundation of Orange County Public Schools and Community Outreach Programs.
Watch the 2021 online ceremony by OCPS and the Foundation for Orange County Public Schools for more information on this year’s Crystal Awards virtual program.